I’m writing this during my first leisurely weekend in months. No specific places to be, nor work to do—just chipping away at the small daily tasks that keep life on the rails.
I started a new job this week. I’m working for the Canadian Digital Service (CDS), doing policy work to support CDS teams that are working on products in collaboration with other departments. CDS’s purpose is to improve the way that government services are created, from conception to delivery; it’s a mission in which I believe deeply, and I’m excited to be along for the ride. (It’s a great first co-op placement, but I think it might spoil other government jobs for me—CDS is a government environment unlike most others, by design.)
This job is also the first where I’m working in an office environment with a regular schedule. There are some things to get used to (shared Outlook calendars make scheduling meetings maybe too easy), but it’s neat to try out a structured job and see how it fits. Thus far the advantages of office work seem to be that I’m right next to the people with whom I’m collaborating and that there’s a clearly defined space for work—when I leave the space, I leave the work behind.
It’s interesting to consider how the workflows and environments of past jobs inform your approach to future ones. My past work has always been remote, so I have a tendency to use digital tools to communicate, even with coworkers sitting nearby. I think there are advantages to that, notably that you can ignore a notification if you’re focusing on something (it’s much harder to ignore someone who sidles up to your desk). But not everyone works that way—the practices of a work environment emerge organically from the combined preferences and experiences of each person in that space. I look forward to considering it further.
The weather is beautiful today, so I’m going to close with two quotations from one of my favourite books about work:
The workday is the dominant fact of a worker’s existence, and more and more he sees it not as a part of the life he is living, but rather as a large hole in the time he spends on earth, the price he pays for the bits and pieces of life he has left.
—R. Theriault, How to Tell When You’re Tired, 121
When they are young and first go to work, most people, especially if they are white and they live in America, do not accept work as their fate… [With age, I notice] an acceptance that is easier to do the job than to fight it.
—R. Theriault, How to Tell When You’re Tired, 62
I like the first quotation because it contrasts somewhat with my experience. Thus far work is something to which I look forward—maybe that’s because things haven’t yet intensified, or maybe because work isn’t all that bad. If we’re destined to spend so much time at work, I figure we might as well make the best of it—a theme Theriault captures perfectly in the second quotation.
All the best for the week ahead.